Awareness Children

How to Protect your Children from Cyberbullying

Covers aspects of cyberbullying and how to handle if your child is getting bullied/bullying others, also, on how to identify these behaviour changes.

Cyberbullying does hurt someone just as much as physical or verbal bullying because it spreads quickly and can be hard to escape. Thanks to Social media, the content can be shared with a lot of people. Psychologically, it becomes hard for people to ignore if you’re using technology too often. For instance, the bully can stay anonymous for a long time as he/she creates fake profiles or names to spread or create. And often it isn’t just one person, there can be a lot of people who take part in it. Further, removing the traces of it can be a very difficult process.

Kids do not express this mostly because they feel ashamed of the stigma or fear that their computer or smartphone privileges will be taken away.

What to do if you’re getting bullied?

There are a few things you need to remember if someone is cyberbullying or bullying you in general. First of all, it is not your fault and you’re not alone. There is help available and you won’t be considered weak if you seek it. You need to build your confidence up to get through this and there are several things you can do.

As a first step,

  • If you know the person who is bullying, tell him/her that it’s not okay and it is bothering you.
  • Block and report the person/profile/post on Social Media. For instance, there are dedicated teams who work in companies to take action on activities like these. Above all, they do take this very seriously.
  • If you’re scared to report about this – there are many channels where you can report issues like this anonymously.

Evidence can be key!

Many times in panic and the fear of being embarrassed, one ends up deleting these emails or messages. It’s important to protect the evidence – save the emails and take screenshots. In addition, this will prove handy when you want to report the incident to your teacher/supervisor. Or sometimes, even getting the help from the police.

It is also important for you to understand what information you choose to share online and what stays private. You may want to read this article that gives you some guidelines on how to care about your personal data privacy.

The anxiety of the rumor being spread will make you feel even more scared and be diligent on social media to watch out for every update; just to see if there is something about you. This is when you should probably switch off for a while and do something else that brings you happiness and gives confidence and strength. Maybe pick your sketching book, or your favorite hobby or song or even a game of cricket. It can be anything but your computer!

As a parent what can you do?

If someone is cyberbullying your Child

It is important for you as a parent to address this problem as Experts say, the children who are bullied and the bullies themselves are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts and completed suicides.

As a parent, most of the time, you fail to understand if your kids are undergoing this in school. Even if you talk, your children may not get this direct term/language. It is very hard to understand the terms that they use for it. Further, because many kids are reluctant to report, it is very hard to know, if they are getting bullied.

Need to observe the behavioral changes

You have to observe somethings in them to notice changes; the chances of someone cyberbullying them online is high if you –

  1. See that your kid feels very upset during or after using the internet; is being very secretive of his/her digital life.
  2. Observe if there is a change in mood, behavior or sleep patterns.
  3. Notice if he/she wants to stop using the computer or phone.
  4. See a change in them if they get nervous when they receive a message or email
  5. ..or even when they avoid discussions on social and technology.

Now when your kid comes up to talk to you, don’t get anxious and look for every possiblity to solve the problem right away. Also, do not start pointing them for their habits, misdoings etc. Firstly, do appreciate them for approaching you and respond thoughtfully. Explain to them that, they aren’t alone, and it is not their fault. Identify a good plan on what can make your kid comfortable.

Build a comfort zone with your kids so that, they add you up as a friend on their social profiles. That way, it is good to keep a watch on their activities. However, please do not comment or post anything to their profile; most of the time, they might find weird among their friends.

Security Hygiene around the child

Ensure the school your kid goes has a strong policy and practices against bullying. The schools should have notice boards warning students from involving in bullying or ragging. The school should believe in solutions than punishments.

It is important for you to keep the computer in a public place in the home to observe patterns in your children’s behavior and body language. Sometimes you have options to turn off messaging services or applications or enable parental controls on the computer.

Speak to your child about the importance of privacy and why it is not a good idea to share personal information and whereabouts to your social profile. Especially the check-ins unless they are totally sure of it. Ensure their accounts have the right protection and settings enabled.

If your child is witnessing other kids getting bullied

Sometimes It is very important for you to ask your kids about how their day at school was. When they speak to you about any of these incidents as a part of the day, listen to understand what they speak and show that you are interested to know the details.

Assure them that, it is okay to support the person who is getting bullied. Ask your kid to be a friend with him/her — sit along or even hang out together. A little bit of comfort will definitely make the other person feel better.

If your child is cyberbullying others

As a parent, we may need to pay attention to our behavior as well. We need to model good habits to help kids understand the benefits and dangers of being on Technology. Most importantly, teach your child how can he/she be great at what they are doing and still have a great set of friends. And of course, how to make the best use of tech for themselves.

Set Parental Controls on devices. As a result, this helps you to understand if your child is having a good internet time and is not cyberbullying others.

There are scenarios when this may happen with you and your child. Firstly, do not panic or punish. Often there is a sense of insecurity, jealousy, a competition that causes children to hate others and vent their anger either directly or through bullying anonymously. It’s very important to address that fact – you can’t avoid it and expect it to get better on time. As a parent, we need to govern the behavior and not the individual.

As a first step, speak to your kid firmly on how his/her actions bring out the negative impact on others.

Cyberbullying also can happen accidentally. The nature of text, messages or emails makes it very hard to detect the sender’s tone. However, it is important for you to explain to your child that, one person’s joke could be another person’s insult.

Speaking about your insecurities

Talk to your kid and explain about your insecurities and how did you overcome it in the past. It could also help if you quote any examples of how you were jealous about a school mate and how you changed the perspectives, that whatever he/she did at school didn’t matter to you as an individual.

Avoid comparisons. Highlight the strengths of your kid. Speak to him/her on how he/she can be different and better and not just be jealous of others in the class. Teach him/her how he/she can use his strengths to make friends and connect to the people.

Encourage your kid to be authentic with his friends. Your kid doesn’t need to win or be first in the class always. Most importantly, It is good to acknowledge the strength of others and appreciate them.

If your kid has trouble understanding and has anger management issues, seek professional help. Thereby, this will not just help him/her manage this behavior but also give confidence and better social skills.

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